Should You Check Your Client’s Progress?

Question: How important is it to go back to what was discussed at the previous session to see if the challenge was resolved or if there is movement? Thabi Zikalala

Answer: If you have the opportunity to check in with what was discussed previously, grab it with both hands! This is part of the “Maturing Changes” section of Penny Tompkins and James Lawley’s Framework for Change.

A new change is like a tiny little seedling. It needs care and attention, sunshine and water, to grow. Without these, it may well shrivel and die.

If you’re in the role of change agent – as a coach, for example – a little watering is part of your job. That check-in may make all the difference for your client, helping the seedling to grow a complete root system and become a fruitful plant.

You could spend the whole of the new session on this development work, asking Clean Language questions about the change and its effects, as long as your client is finding it valuable.

Even if the client has a new topic to bring to this new session, my view is that you should still check in on last time, at least briefly. How else can you know what kind of things work well for your client?

And from a selfish point of view, how else can you get the satisfaction of knowing when things do change? I always want to know! But I don’t always get to find out. Sometimes there’s no opportunity for further contact with a client, or they don’t respond to a follow-up email. And apparently there are schools of changework in which any follow-up contact with a client is regarded as unethical. I wrote about this general issue a few years ago, here.

But… what if nothing changed? Again, wouldn’t it be useful to know? It’s not uncommon that things seem to transform in the session, but when the client gets back to reality, the reality is that nothing seems to change. That’s where you, as the change agent, have the opportunity to support your client in doing the real work.

Given that, what would your client like to have happen? And how can you help? What needs to happen for things to change? Is there a bind operating which needs to be resolved? A more prosaic difficulty to overcome?

It’s time to get to work!

  • Many thanks for the question. Please feel free to ask yours: below, by email or using my contact form.

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